Dr Peter Lind: Scepticism ignores complexity

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Teachers must be seen as professionals who exercise judgment, have professional autonomy and are seen as more than technicians. Photo / Thinkstock
Teachers must be seen as professionals who exercise judgment, have professional autonomy and are seen as more than technicians. Photo / Thinkstock

Rodney Hide's column (March 3) provides an overly simplistic, sceptical view of the key role of qualified and registered teachers.

Does his experience of lecturing university undergraduates prepare him adequately to teach children and adolescents?

Imagine this everyday primary school scenario: in a reading lesson, the teacher must simultaneously be concerned with the learning of technical reading skills, with motivation and love of reading, and monitoring the performance of the six or eight students in front of her while not losing touch with the other two dozen in the room - plus catering to individual pupil differences.

That illustrates the complex professional task of teaching.

Hide also argues there is no way to ensure teachers are "subject to scrutiny" and "held to account for their professional conduct" because complaints are investigated and heard behind closed doors.

This ignores that all Disciplinary Tribunal cases are reported in full, with teachers' and schools' names removed, on a public website. It also ignores that a public register of teachers maintains the registration status of every New Zealand teacher.

Nor do statistics support his claim that teachers act unprofessionally. In 2012 Professor Thomas Lumley, a University of Auckland bio-statistician, cited the complaint rate as one complaint per 289 teachers per year, compared with one complaint per four police per year, and one complaint per 66 journalists per year.

With more than 100,000 registered teachers, the percentage involved in disciplinary proceedings is less than 0.01 per cent. Teachers must be seen as professionals who exercise judgment, have professional autonomy and are seen as more than technicians.


• Dr Lind is Teachers Council Director.

- Herald on Sunday

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